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jessika kenney & eyvind kang - The Face of the Earth
Sunn O))) guest players and Ideologic Organ mainstays Jessika Kenney and Eyvind Kang return with six new pieces for voice, viola, setar and electronics. Recorded in Istanbul, Seattle and Bologna, The Face Of The Earth is more obviously Eastern in tone to the duo's last IO offering, Aestuarium. Taking its cue from classical Persian and Javanese traditions, and themed around the idea of "drawing the binary from the unary, like reflections from a mirror, and its inverse, the concealed identity", it's a collection of sonic riddles whose meaning can be unlocked, at least to some extent, by the "reading cards" provided in the insert. Despite the arcane mysticism at work, it's music of self-evident and ravishing beauty: from the medievalist balladry of 'Tavaf', to the pensive but restlessly percussive 'Kidung', Kenney's vocal performances are show-stopping throughout, and Kang's strings resonate powerfully around them. Over its short duration, the sparse voice and viola interplay of 'Ordered Pairs II' take on the character of spiritual jazz, while the looping and phasing techniques applied on 'Mirror Stage' come over like a courtly response to Steve Reich's 'It's Gonna Rain', and 'The Face Of The Earth' feels like the logical extension of the more avant-garde moments on Julia Holter's Ekstasis. Tremendous stuff.